Justin Thomas leads Zozo Championship after another round of seven under
The logo of Sherwood Country Club is Robin Hood, but considering their pinpoint accuracy, the vast majority of golfers Friday in the second round of the Zozo Championship were closer to William Tell.
Immaculate conditions, inviting greens and no wind led to a slew of low scores, with the field of 77 compiling 451 birdies — an average of nearly six per round — and 11 eagles. That’s a combination of exceptional play and the fact the course features five par-five holes.
Back in 2013, the last time PGA Tour players converged on Sherwood for the Hero World Challenge, Zach Johnson won with a 13-under-par 275. That tournament, held at Sherwood from 2000 to 2013, took place in December, so the conditions were not as favorable.
Still, midway through this week’s event, Justin Thomas has already eclipsed those numbers. He’s 14 under after consecutive rounds of 65.
Matthew Wolff grew up in nearby Agoura Hills and has friends who live next to the Sherwood Country Club. He expects friends to watch from nearby yards at the tournament without fans.
“It’s not very difficult,” Thomas said of the 6,898-yard course. “It’s short, and the greens are soft right now. So obviously if they get firmer and they tuck the pins a little bit more, it is going to be harder and the scores will be higher. With some of the pins that they’ve had and definitely just the softer conditions, that’s good scoring conditions for us.”
For some, the scoring was jaw-dropping. After an even-par opening round, Richy Werenski shot an 11-under 61 that included 12 birdies, five pars and a bogey. He’s in a logjam of players tied for sixth.
The Zozo Championship, moved from Japan because of the pandemic, doesn’t have a cut. Dylan Frittelli and Lanto Griffin are tied for second, one shot behind Thomas, followed by Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler tied for fourth at 12 under.
A lot of players are using this as their tuneup for an unprecedented autumn Masters, moved from April to Nov. 12-15 in another pandemic adjustment.
“This is all still building up to Augusta,” said Cantlay, a former UCLA standout from Long Beach. “It just feels weird because it’s this time of year. But my game’s been going in the right direction, I’m feeling good about it, so it is nice to play well before Augusta.”
Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed — both Masters champions — each shot a 63 on Friday, as did Talor Gooch.
Tiger Woods won last year’s ZOZO Championship in Japan, and his familiarity with Sherwood Country Club puts him a good position to win again.
“There’s really no wind today, maybe less than half a club,” Reed said. “So when it’s like that, you feel like you can just attack, you can throw darts. When you’re hitting the ball in the fairway, especially on the par-fives, a lot of them, if you hit the fairway, it’s automatic you can go for it.”
Tiger Woods, both the defending Masters and Zozo winner, shot a 66 on Friday — 10 strokes better than his opening round.
“I felt a lot better with my driving,” he said. “I was able to hit the ball both ways, which is nice. I hit two bad tee shots with a three-wood, but they ended up in the fairway and that was not the case yesterday. And I hit my irons basically pin high all day and gave myself a lot of putts.”
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